Wednesday, November 8, 2017

WHERE DO YOU GO TO CHURCH?

I am thinking through what church currently "looks like" and what God intended our churches to be.  As an institution, we seem to have strayed away from the purpose of meeting together and the instructions left for the church  NOW before you attack me, I am thankful for church, and yes, I attend a local church, and yes, they are an important part of our relationship with God.  I am NOT anti-church, but I am questioning how we have humanized church into something that often appears to be for our entertainment instead of the edification of the body.



NOW---perhaps I am NOT speaking of your wonderful church you have been a member of since the beginning  of time.  If you attend the perfect church which reflects the biblical model of the New Testament Church, be thankful and go to your next blog.  Churches are filled with people and because we live in a fallen world, somehow we seem to forget the purpose of church. 



We seem to think the purpose of church is to provide a country club atmosphere of wellness for body and soul.  We play basketball, volleyball, walk on the treadmill, and participate in the local church league football.  We say a quick prayer and then proceed to annihilate the other teams to bring home the coveted league championship trophy.  We work on getting our physical fitness while across town there are children playing in the streets.  



I have attended the mega churches where you are entertained with light and laser shows with an orchestra or rock band overshadowing the singing.  Videos professionally produced give short enticing commercials of the events to come.  The coffee bar is at the front door and the parking lot team helps you find your way in the building.  It is run like a well tuned event of astronomical size, including the police directing the traffic as you leave.  The service rivaled some of the best concerts I have ever attended, and I sat in virtual anonymity, without more than a superficial -forced "Good Morning" at the time of greeting.



Somehow church has become a spectator sport.  We sit for and hour and a half and pay our required weekly commitment to "Church".  As soon as the last "Amen" peals, we are out the door and off to the world.  We showed up and attended and perhaps even sat through "Sunday School" class. We quickly add names of others to the "Prayer List" , while never opening the door to our deep fears, insecurities, and griefs.  We are dressed in our best--at the right place--at the right time and forget the true purpose of it all.


The truest church is sometimes found in the smallest groups.  Church is NOT necessarily the huge congregation with the slick technical innovations.  Church can be anywhere anytime two or more or gathered with the express intent of praise, worship, and personal growth in our relationship with The Father.  Church is the group where we can be honest and look to others to help us seek the answers.  Church is the group who is feeding the poor, tending the sick, and helping the widows. The sweetest of church moments can be your father in law, who sings badly off key-at best, lifts his voice in praise to his Father.  Church is a participatory sport--not a place for bleacher quarterbacks.  

Church can meet any and everyday of the week.  If we are seeking Him--following Him--speaking of Him---it can be church.  How did church morph into the design of huge mega groups with little intimate interaction?  The quest for growth has sadly overshadowed the growth of the personal relationships in a joint effort to grow in The Father.  Churches do MANY-MANY wonderful things, but I am not certain church has not become another mega industry in a lost and crying world.  Our quest for numbers and contributions has become the focal point instead of seeking the lost and the edification of the Saints.

Just thinking out loud here---blast away--for I know I have stepped on some toes.  I am ALWAYS talking to myself first and foremost.  Today I am asking myself--What does God intend for the church I attend?

And let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works, not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day drawing near.
Hebrews 10:24-25

12 comments:

  1. Bravo Lulu ... great post.

    Over the years, many churches have become institutions with hierarchies and its members, (employees), intent on either promotion up the ladder, or promoting their own viewpoints and opinions rather than the Word of God. As competing institutions many churches have resorted to promoting their brand of Christianity rather than what Christ originally intended.

    As a result, the congregations, far and wide in all denominations, are left confused and overall apathetic to say the least. No wonder here in the UK church attendances are falling every year - last figures I read showed 5% of the population attend church regularly (i.e. every week).

    Our relationship with God should be on a one-to-one basis. We pray to Him, He listens and often responds, and we learn from Him. But this should not be to the exclusion of attending a GOOD church where the leader, (priest, vicar, minister, padre or whatever they call themselves), genuinely knows and believes the Word of God and spends his time teaching and preaching and living just that. Not his brand or interpretation of what he would like the Word of God to be. Fortunately, where I live, we still have such churches with dedicated people who try their best, against a sea of apathy, to bring the real meaning of Christianity into peoples' lives.

    God bless.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I wonder what God is thinking if our misguided attempts to "build a church"? The original NT churches were small groups meeting in Hines to pray. Check out Paul's letters, it didn't take long for man to mess it up. Thankful for me small pockets of church which ring true of what He intended.
      Blessings, Mt Friend!

      Delete
  2. I couldn't of said it any better, Victor, bravo. We have tried many churches here, it just isn't what we are looking for...oh, the folks are nice and all, but...the good Lord isn't calling us to any particular church (and for exactly what Victor is referring to).

    Great post, Lulu, smiles.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. You have the "True" definition of a home church! "Where two or more"
      Blessings, My Friend!

      Delete
  3. mmm ... so thought-provoking, Lulu. I'm thinking that the best church I ever experienced was the years when I co-led a Celebrate Recovery program. Loved those people - their honesty, their passion for Jesus, and praise, and recovery, and authenticity.

    No masks, just raw, real, encouraging life together, the broken trusting God for every breath in many cases.

    I miss that community. Hasn't been one like it before ... or since ...

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. You understand what I am saying, Linda. That's it in a nutshell AND WHY can't we have that on an ongoing basis?
      Blessings, My Friend

      Delete
  4. I am right there with you on "church" We attend a small church, they meet once a week, ladies bible study once a week that is as good as the Sunday service. In fact, it is the place we can get real with each other, share those warts and be open to be ministered to. I love our church because the preaching is right on and challenges us to live our life daily for Him. But I have also had a couple of bad experiences in church...made me want to stop going to church but we kept at it because it is good to gather together with other believers so we can be challenged. Church does not look like it did in the early church but then nothing looks like it did then. We don't walk to church, the home churches happened because things were just getting started for the church. I never expect the building or methods to be the same, only the message, big or small the church must have the right message for me. Good post.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. How many times have I uttered those same words, "The truth needs to be taught." Most of the discussion here and on FB has pointed out it usually works best in small groups. Intimate settings where we can be real without fear and pray for each other in the joy and pain. Thank you for a wonderful comment, Betty.
      Blessings!

      Delete
  5. Hi Lulu! This is a huge topic today in churches and congregations everywhere. I do believe that we are called to meet with each other to build each up in faith and praise the Lord.
    You make a good point that churches are filled with humans, and therefore they are imperfect. But that doesn't stop me from going, and trying to do my best. At one point, my children wanted us to find a new church because they disagreed with the firing of their music director. As much as it pained me (she was my friend too), I said we should stay. That place is our home, and home is not perfect. The next church would have it's problems too.

    I'm not sure where the 'best' place for being with other believers would be. I do love small groups myself, and have led many of them. But to me, there's nothing like a congregation of people, praising and trying. Just today, watching people in prayer at church brought me to tears. They are such a huge witness to me of how much God is loved and adored. I can only hope I inspire someone else like that at some point too.
    Thank you for serving up some very real feelings and ideas for your readers (including me!). A lot of food for thought.
    Ceil

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I too have had those moments "In Church" where the presence of God was absolutely tangible. And YES, I think we are called to meet and the church is filled with imperfect man. It is not perfect--never easy--but neither is life--and yet we keep trying.
      Blessings, Ceil!

      Delete
  6. Very well said you all. I have not been attending church for roughly four years. I find that it is all a production and not what it should be. The lack of prayer time has been replaced by performance and all the things that a person could go to at the local community centre. Small groups which I have been part of turned out to be cliques with more gossiping, more running down of members etc. than learning, sharing, praising, and listening. I have also witnessed churches deliberately torn apart by new people coming in and breaking everything apart to serve their purpose. In most churches in my area, you only see the pastor on stage, you never actually get to communicate with him, he and others are to be protected from the masses at all costs. On the flip side, my husband’s family is of the Mennonite faith. I have studied it quite a bit and from what actually was the original church is a far, far cry from what it is now. I know there are great churches out there, that truly follow what Jesus and the New Testament church taught. I believe that the powers of darkness are rally using this time of confusion in the church to use it to evil advantage. I read a blog post tonight and it certainly showed me again, just how far people have been led away from the truth. I believe as believers, we need to be praying constantly and I for one am so joyful to see so many truths in the bible coming out even in these dark times. God has a plan. God is good all the time...All the time God is good. I look forward to seeing how he works every day and like some of you have commented, it is where two or more are gathered, that he is working in spite of our failings as humans.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thank you, Jean for your comment. As I replied to one comment on the Facebook link, when man gets involved we almost always mess up what was intended. You are absolutely correct--prayer is the answer. Praying with intent for God to remind us of what He intended church to look like and the true purpose of meeting together.
      Blessings!

      Delete

Your comments keep my writing and often cause me to think. A written form of a hug or a pat on the back and an occasional slap into reality---I treasure them all!